GUYS: AN INSTRUCTION MANUAL – HOW TO STAY YOUNG AND FIT
We like to say that age is only a number, however, when we see senior citizens in our country, who struggle to get on a bus by themselves, we begin to doubt these words. This is the question, in fact: are we doomed to gradually lose skeletal muscle mass? Anyone who works out at the gym knows that regular workouts keep our bodies in a good health. The added benefit is improved appearance – the muscles became tight, the complexion seems younger, we become more flexible and don’t struggle with everyday mobility issues, typically affecting people of mature age. However the devil is in the details: each age group is distinguished by a somewhat different metabolism – learn about these mechanisms and slow down the ageing process!
The process of ontogenetic human development can be divided into three distinct stages: the growth of the organism, a period of stabilisation and the ageing stage. The divisions between them are very blurred, often not noticeable, and the age at which they occur can differ depending on individual genetic predispositions and lifestyle, which includes physical activity and nutrition. During the successive life stages there occur not only changes of the make-up of the body, manifesting in increasing accumulation of fatty tissue and a gradual decrease in muscle mass. With age, the functioning of various organs and of whole systems also changes. One of the basic characteristics describing the human organism is the capacity for physical effort of diverse intensity and duration. This in particular relies on the efficient functioning of the muscular, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Their functioning is closely interconnected. At the successive human life stages the capacity for physical effort changes significantly. The dynamics of this process depend not only on the person‘s age, but also on individual, genetically determined predispositions as well as on the individual’s level of physical activity. The progressive decrease in physical strength and healthy functioning is one of the signs of the biological process of ageing in the human organism and is linked with a deteriorating functioning of the cardiovascular, pulmonary and neuromuscular systems, and also with a drop in the metabolic rate.
Of no lesser importance in preventive health care is the social factor, as maintaining significant physical activity levels is often crucial for keeping up high performance that is linked to manual labour. A significant influence on the progressive drop in healthy functioning is a lack of opportunity for performing daily mobility tasks such as walking or stair climbing. Studies conducted in the US indicate that many individuals over the age of 65 cannot even manage simple mobility tasks, not requiring much physical effort. More than 51% are unable to perform heavier household tasks, and approximately 33% cannot walk a distance of 1 kilometer without rest. This status quo is accompanied by unfavourable transformations in body composition which limit the effort ranges. The above data suggests, that the key to a positive change is adaptation.
Keeping up physical activity will ensure a smaller decrease in muscular mass into late old age. But can physical activity itself, along with nutrition and a training plan remain the same for the duration of one’s lifetime?
Researchers from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom proved that as the human organism enters the ageing stage, sudden attempts at taking up an exercise regime in order to slow down the ageing process may in fact bring about the latter’s acceleration. The body is unable to cope with an exhausting exercise workload, which is counter-productive. Why? An exhausting training regime results in an increased demand for glutathione (an antioxidant produced by the liver, from i.e. L-glutamine) in order to prevent free-radical damage. However its secretion by an ageing organism is often impaired. The stress caused by the exercise load, which at one stage would have revitalized the body, over a certain age acts to its disadvantage. Scientists studied data originating from a wide group composed of all populations and concluded that this problem affects even advanced sportspeople. If they don’t train according to the level which their age and fitness level allows, they accelerate the ageing process of the organism. The message is clear, and it also applies to body builders – training helps to preserve a youthful appearance and good health, but its intensity should be adapted to age. Through over-ambitious exercising, our cells will be exposed to chronic oxidative stress, that will ultimately lead to their gradual destruction and a faster ageing of the entire organism. And we shouldn‘t forget about the safeguard provided by correct nutrition. Diet and supplementation should also take into account the modifications taking place in our organism with the passage of time.
NUTRITION DURING A PERIOD OF SECOND YOUTH
When we train very intensively, our body is often subjected to great physical and psychological burdens. Long and sometimes exhausting training sessions can interfere with the natural equilibrium of the organism (homeostasis), compromise healthy functioning as well as bring about many health disorders. In order to improve performance, both professional sportspeople and amateurs should use specific methods of biological regeneration, the main goal of which is the replenishment of energy substrates and other macro-and micro-elements which are being used up as a result of increased physical effort. This is already complicated enough with a person in the 20–25 age bracket, and gets even more so with individuals over 50, when during hormonal changes (andropause- androgen menopause) it may for instance be the pancreas that begins to malfunction and we get to experience what “insulin resistance“ means first hand. Additionally our bodies manufacture antioxidants less and less efficiently, such as the earlier mentioned glutathione, and due to sarcopenia (the loss of muscular mass due to ageing) the level of BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate – decreases rapidly, which is represented in the table below.
Table 1. Changes in BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) in time.
- 10-18 YEARS
- 19-30 YEARS
- 31-30 YEARS
- 61- YEARS
- (BW* x 17.5) + 651
- (BW x 15.3) + 679
- (BW x 11.6) + 879
- (BW x 13.5) + 487
- (BW x 12.2) + 746
- (BW x 14.7) + 479
- (BW x 8.7) + 829
- (BW x 10.5) + 596
*BW- body weight in kg
Estimated BMR for a 78 kg man in the age bracket 19–30 is 1872kcal. For the same individual in the age bracket 31–60 the calorie requirement is already equal to 1783kcal, which is around 90kcal lower, and for a man over 60 it is only 1540kcal, which is a deficit of more than 330 kcal in comparison to a young person. As it is these figures give a distorted picture, since we have assumed for the needs of this calculation that men across all the age brackets have an identical body composition, namely that their mass is an ideal body weight (IBW) with a body fat percentage of 10%. In the case of ageing individuals it is rather unlikely to maintain the fatty tissue at such low levels and at the same time have such a high percentage of muscular mass. Increased expression of myostatin which occurs during sarcopenia quite cruelly deprives the senior persons of their muscular mass – and in this way limits the level of consumed calories. The muscle cells are up to eight times more anabolically active than the fat cells, so the greater the muscular mass, the more calories the organism will burn during daily activity. Each kilogram of muscular mass allows us to get rid of approximately 50 kcal more per 24 hrs. It will be safe to assume that the Ideal body weight (IBW) of the senior person under consideration here is around 60 kg, since the body fat percentage is higher, and the muscular mass on the other hand is smaller than of a man in the 19–30 age bracket. Because of that the actual caloric burn per 24 hrs will be 1575 for the 31–60 age bracket and 1297kcal for someone over 60. So it’s not surprising that calorie-reduced diets followed in our youth become the daily menu when we get older, keeping us at a zero or a positive caloric balance. One just needs to add here the earlier mentioned weakening action of insulin, malabsorption, food sensitivities, an inadequate enzymatic response – and we get a complete picture of how difficult it becomes to fulfill the nutritional needs of a senior who gets involved in strenuous physical effort.
It is not only an issue of the caloric content of the diet. It has been proved, for example, that reducing the number of calories derived from fat (from more than 30% to below 15%) and increasing the amount of fibre (from below 20 g up to 25–30 g and more daily) significantly lowers the levels of total and free testosterone as well as the androgens secreted by the adrenal glands (androsterone anddehydroepiandrosterone). Moreover, during 11-day long tests on men who switched from a typical Western diet to a low-fat diet (10% fat) with a high quantity of fibre (35–40 g daily), a 17% drop in the level of free testosterone was noted. A low-fat, high fibre diet can be considered an “anti-testosterone“ diet; the drop in the testosterone level is caused by the increase of the amount of the protein called globulin which binds to sex hormones (SHBG). The testosterone circulating in the blood binds mainly to SHBG and also to some degree to albumin present in the blood plasma. Only a small amount of testosterone doesn’t undergo this process and remains “free“, in other words biologically active and able to enter the cell and activate its receptor. SHBG blocks the action of this hormone, in other words bioavailability of free testosterone depends on the levels of SHBG.
The result of a high protein diet is decreased production of SHBG. To give an example – the tested subjects were placed in two groups: the first group followed a high protein diet for ten days and the second – a high carbohydrate diet. In the first group the level of SHBG dropped by around 39%, which meant that the bioactivity of testosterone was higher. One of the main factors controlling the SHBG synthesis is insulin. It was shown that consumption of protein and specific amino acids raises the level of insulin, which in turn lowers the level of SHBG. The role of “mediator“ is played by specific amino acids, and most importantly leucine. It has been shown that it triggers an increase in insulin level, which can be one of the factors of protein ability to lower the levels of SHBG.
The role of insulin in regulation of SHBG levels may explain why a low-fat high fibre diet results in a drop in the level of androgens – this kind of nutrition may in fact decrease the rate of glucose absorption in the small intestine, which results in smaller fluctuations of insulin and sugar levels in the blood. It turns out, that the amount of this hormone both on an empty stomach and after glucose was given is inversely proportional to the SHBG levels in the blood plasma. This indicates, that a low insulin level raises the SHBG level in the blood. However, let’s not forget that with age the activity of the pancreas and the insulin function are prone to disorders. This condition can be remedied to some extent by means of sensitizing the cells to glucose – through regular physical activity and supplementation with products which supportthe insulin function, such as leucine – LEUCINE FUSIOIN, taurine – TAURINE 900, chromium, creatine – CREAX9 XTREME, cinnulin (cinnamon bark extract) as well as omega-3 fatty acids (SUPER OMEGA-3), anti-oxidants, L-carnitine (TREC L-CARNITINE + GREEN TEA) and Xylitol (birch sugar). However, taking into account research on the ageing population, it is worthwhile to take a closer look at the role of green tea and creatine in the functioning of the human body after the fourth decade of life.
Let’s take a look at a study in which creatine raised the activity of mRNA IGF-1 without the aid of exercise. Researchers claim that an increase in dry mass frequently observed after supplementation with creatine monohydrate may be transmitted by signalling pathways, which activate the mRNA IGF-1 in the muscles. It has been discovered that creatine has a potential antioxidant effect at a cellular level. It prevents oxidative stress in skeletal muscles, which is a result of the destructive effect of free radicals, leading to cell mutation, destruction of tissue and weakening of the immune system. It would seem that maintaining the levels of antioxidants (i.e. glutathione) and ATP is an essential combination of processes indispensable to slow down ageing. The latest research published in the ”Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research“ proves, that creatine protects the muscle cells against oxidative stress. This ingredient assists the muscles in adverse conditions and prevents the destruction of mitochondria in the cells, which degenerate with age in the muscles. As result of this research, creatine may be regarded as a supplement which slows down the ageing processes. Moreover, it has been proved that it is also a natural inhibitor (a suppressing factor) of myostatin – a protein which inhibits the development of the muscle mass. This phenomenon, along with the increased rate of IGF-1 secretion, provides an incredibly anabolic foundation – this leads to the conclusion that this ingredient not only increases the level of lean muscle mass in young people, but also prevents the loss of muscle mass related to ageing. Researchers have high hopes for the application of this supplement for a wider market than that of bodybuilding.
Recently, the benefits of using supplements have been presented in a very favourable light in the context of green tea consumption. Although it is most commonly used for fat loss, new research discovered some of its other significant benefits. The first study (published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”) was conducted on a sample of more than 42 thousand individuals. The study objective was to investigate the health benefits of green tea consumption in relation to the consumed dose. The reduction in fatty tissue wasn’t the focus of interest this time – it turned out that the increased consumption promotes psychological well-being and helps to soothe disquiet and states of anxiety. In the event of taking five cups daily (approximately 100–150 mg EGCG – the most active polyphenols) it was found that psychological anxiety had been relieved by 20%. Other recently conducted research showed an additional unexpected benefit.
Reports published in “Respiratory Medicine“ suggest that green tea consumption may prevent damage to the lungs done by smoking, as well as helping to reduce the stiffness of muscles used in breathing.
Thea fore mentioned mitochondrial degeneration in the muscles may be an explanation why after the fourth decade of life, L-carnitine supplementation becomes more justifiable than in one’s younger years. Research conducted on a substantial group of ageing people has demonstrated that a daily dose of 2500 mg L-carnitine divided up into 500 mg servings had a significant effect on slowing down the process of fatty tissue accumulation – both subcutaneous and visceral fat – as well as creating a chemo preventive effect following tumour remission.
ANDROPAUSE AND SACROPENIA – A BODY BUILDER’S NIGHTMARE
In the context of the biopsychosocial approach, andropause is a stage in a man’s life (usually a man over 50) which heralds the onset of old age. This stage is marked by an onset of a number of complaints in various areas of an individual’s functioning, rooted in multiple organ changes taking place in the organism, including hormonal changes due to ageing. We can talk here of somatic aspects (pain, sleep and appetite problems), psychological ones (memory complaints, irritability, anxiety) and sexual ones (erectile dysfunction and a drop in libido). Among the typical symptoms of physical changes we can mention the following: a drop in muscle mass by 25%, an increase in the amount of visceral fat by 10¬–15 kg, a decrease in the bone mass (osteopenia), an increase in insulin resistance (which characterises pre-diabetic changes leading to a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes), arterial hypertension and scalp hair thinning. Another result of ageing in men is a gradual drop in concentration of some hormones, mainly androgens, and also of the growth hormone and melatonin, which causes sleeplessness in older people. Researchers generally agree that the main culprit of this cascade of negative biological effects are the dropping testosterone levels. The multiple organ ageing of the organism manifests itself among others as impairment of the HPTA (hypothalamus-pituitary-testicles axis) function resulting in a downward spiral – the drop in testosterone level leads to pancreatic dysfunction and influences a drop in adiponectin levels, which in turn influences the accumulation of visceral fat.
Adipokines secreted by visceral fat interfere with the blood sugar level, leading to hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, which ultimately brings the onset of cardiovascular disease and death.
The phenomenon of the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass by around 23%, observed in men in the age bracket 30–70, is referred to as sarcopenia. It is also linked with a drop in the rate of strength development. The crucial factor contributing to this condition is the decline in hormonal function – a dropping level of biologically active testosterone (between the ages of 40–70 by around 30%) and of the growth hormone. Men aged 40–74, despite maintaining a relatively constant level of lean body mass (LBM) (accompanied by an increase in total body weight), suffer from a systematic drop in muscle function of the upper limbs. The magical age of 30 is a milestone above which a drop can be observed in endogenous testosterone levels, with a systematic annual decrease by 1%. From that life stage onwards, a percentage increase of fatty tissue can be observed with a simultaneous percentage drop in muscle tissue. Testosterone controls the anabolic processes involved in the maintenance of muscle mass, so it is not surprising that sarcopenia involves a reduction of muscle protein – the cross-section of the muscles decreases, while the content of the connective tissue and visceral fat increases. In men over 40 there is also a change in fat distribution – the fat content in the trunk grows, while the fat content of the limbs decreases. This is a very negative phenomenon and it is directly linked to andropause and the impairment of HPTA function which leads to numerous health complications – Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, arteriosclerosis and ultimately death. The more significant changes in the total body weight become noticeable only around the age of 50, whereas a marked drop in lean muscle mass happens around 20 years later.
The reduction is accompanied by a decrease in the total water content of the organism. There is also a drop in the level of creatine excreted in the urine. This is related to a diminishing intensity of the basal metabolic rate, which in turn is associated with the loss of biologically active tissue, namely the muscles. The caloric requirement remains at a relatively constant level until approximately age 40, thereafter it begins to drop gradually (within a period of 50 years by around 30%). Factors which may help to reduce the destructive influence of a drop in the muscle mass and also help to combat the changes in body composition are the following: regular physical activity, unprocessed foods rich in the essential unsaturated fatty acids (EUFA), antioxidants, nutraceuticals, vitamins and minerals.
WORKOUT CAPACITY CHANGES WITH AGE
It is not thoroughly understood what kind of changes take place in the muscle fibres during the ageing process of an organism. Many research studies indicate that the numerical ratio of fast twitch muscle fibres (FT) to slow twitch muscle fibres (ST) changes with age. It happens as a result of increased atrophy of FT fibres, with the number of ST fibres remaining constant, or a greater activity of reinnervation processes – taking over the function of inactive motor neurons by new neurites – in motor neurons of slow twitch motor units. Researchers have shown that in men between the age of 20 and 30, ST fibres constitute 36% of the total muscle fibres, whereas in the age group 30–50 this figure was already 44%. In another study was found that in the age group 20–29 the ST fibres make up 39%, and in the age group of 60–65 year old men – 66% of the total fibres. What is indisputable is the fact of a more distinct diminishing of the cross-sectional area of FT fibres in contrast with ST fibres. In 80-year old persons it is, in contrast to the young, around 26% smaller. Especially prone to changes are B-type FT fibres, namely the ones with the maximum power and potential for lateral growth. This process can significantly limit the muscle strength of elderly persons, and the drop in the rate of muscle contractions is related primarily to a diminishing firing frequency of motor neurons.
Muscle strength is a characteristic which is strongly related to changes in the cross-sectional area of the muscle fibres, participation of the individual fibre types and also to the activation efficiency of motor units. A relatively constant level of strength is maintained until the age of 50, although many research studies indicate that the drop seems to begin as early as age 30. A distinct reduction in muscle strength takes place at the age between 50 and 70. During the sixth and seventh decade of life its maximum value decreases by around 15%, and later, in the subsequent decades, drops even by 30%.
These studies explain why endurance training gets “easier“ with age and why men over 40 achieve good results in sports which focus on endurance such as instance triathlon. The increased percentage share of the ST muscle fibres along with atrophy and an impaired function of muscle power creation, explains why when we get older we should swop typically anaerobic activities (sprints, MMA, bodybuilding) for mixed exercise (strength-and-endurance training, such as e.g. functional training) as well as aerobic exercise (swimming, running and endurance walking, cycling).
THREE AGE GROUPS, THREE RULES FOR STAYING IN SHAPE
AGE: Youth (19-30)
An excellent period of motor fitness, time for achieving best results in many sport disciplines. A period of relative maintenance of constant level of motor skills. For those involved in sport, the early period of adult life is a time of achieving top results.
The advice for those not involved in competitive sports is to take up a relatively intense and systematic physical activity of a recreational nature. Most importantly it will prevent a drop in physical fitness, while also serving to maintain the fitness gained in the previous years of life. It is also a stage of developing muscular maturity, assuming that coordination had been achieved in childhood – what is left to do now is its consolidation.
Unlimited – in the absence of injury and postural defects any sports discipline can be practised; best time for development of muscle mass.
Avoid products which can predispose one towards the andropause metabolic syndrome in the future – sugars, trans fats. Diet can be rich in energy ingredients, since a young organism has an excellent capacity for absorption and utilization of carbohydrates and fats. Due to the fact that a large muscle mass can be developed through training at this time, which involves an increased metabolic rate, supplementation relies mainly on carbohydrate-protein gainers, used both after a workout in order to recover the calorie expenditure in the context of the post-exercise “anabolic window“, and also in-between meals, so as to increase caloric density. Creatine supplementation, in contrast to later years, will be more advisable in view of the rate of its resynthesis and IGF-1 stimulation for muscle mass gain, and not for its maintenance and breakdown prevention.
Speed- and strength: bodybuilding, martial arts, cross fit, interval training instead of aerobic training in order to raise energy expenditure and development of capacity.
SOLID MASS, MASS XXL, ISOLATE 100, CREATRIX, CREA9XTREME.
Age: Middle age (30-40)
Decline in physical activity levels. In people involved in regular training, physical and locomotor fitness can be maintained. It is a time of a gradual decrease in motor skills in human life. This concerns predominantly learning new sport activities. It is true that the decline in fitness level takes place slowly and gradually, yet towards the end of that phase it is quite pronounced. At this time there are huge differences visible between those who are involved in fitness training and those who are not – in the latter physical fitness and locomotor skills are low, due to neglect.
Focused on sport with small movement coordination – the last chance for strength training. Injury and mobility loss caused by prior sedentary life style could result in limited function and be a hindrance to developing physical fitness.
It is a time when caloric supply in persons involved in regular training should not become too restricted, although those who are physically inactive may notice first symptoms of insulin resistance. Low-processed products are recommended as well as supplements which promote stability of blood sugar levels. In view of slowly declining testosterone levels, supplementation with testosterone boosters plays an incredibly essential role. As a preventive measure, creatine supplements can also be used in the heavier training micro cycles in order to reduce oxidative stress and to improve recovery. These products will also assist in inhibiting the negative influence of myostatin, whose expression limits training progress in this age group. Lipolytic agent supplementation is recommended in order to assist with the metabolism of fatty tissue and combating cortisol. In this age group, hard-gainers (supplements with a 80:20 ratio of carbohydrate to protein) should be substituted by bulk supplements, which have a higher protein content, resulting in a higher thermogenesis and a reduction in insulin fluctuation. In view of the slow mitochondrial degeneration, supplements containing L-carnitine are recommended.
The progressively slowing down metabolism requires stimulation – at this stage the rapid development of ST fibres at the expense of FT fibres hasn’t commenced yet, thus we can get involved in strength and interval training. However. One has to pay special attention to proper recovery, since the organism doesn’t regain its homeostasis as quickly as at a younger age. Eight hours of sleep, massage, proper nutrition and supplementation become very important at this stage, with view to preventive care.
TESTO(X)PACK, L- CARNTINE + GREN TEA, LIPO(X)PACK, FAT TRANSPORTER, HARD MASS, BCAA TURBO JET.
Age: Mature age (40+)
People with low physical activity levels already manifest signs of involution processes; active people on the other hand, can be involved in many sports on a non-competitive level, achieving good results, provided physical fitness had been maintained since puberty. For the majority of people this is a time of a rapid decline of physical and locomotor fitness. Regression can be observed in daily motor activities and those linked to professional life. Physical exercises and sport activities should serve primarily to maintain cardio-pulmonary fitness. Attention should also be paid to flexibility and relaxation exercises. Their lack at an older age quickly leads to mobility reduction in the joints – this condition which started developing in middle age, now becomes consolidated in physically inactive persons. Exercises whose aim is to maintain a correct body posture are also important, making it possible to prevent senile kyphosis, among other things.
Unlimited, provided that throughout all of the previous stages we used preventive measures and led an active life style. In inactive persons only recreational exercise is possible with a focus on developing muscle endurance and preserving the correct body posture. It is the time when instead of going to the gym, we should concentrate on activities which aim to develop our general fitness.
Sarcopenia, which gets more pronounced in physically inactive individuals, creates a necessity to lower the caloric supply and to pay closer attention to what we consume – total ban on consuming excessive amounts of sugar and a need to avoid trans fats. Numerous metabolic impairments which occur in this age group create a situation when every time we overindulge, we expose ourselves to health complications. In the context of supply of basic nutritional products, it is advisable that diet be supplemented with high quality proteins, e.g. whey and also complex carbohydrates which elicit a gentle and gradual insulin response (VITARGO ELECTRO–ENERGY).
A compulsory and continuous supplementation with testosterone boosters is recommended, in order to minimize complications of andropause. Because of the degeneration of motor neurons, a neurotransmitter – Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid has to be used (GABA 750). Creatine is used in preventing sarcopenia.
For a better libido and a lower blood pressure, supplementation with NO (nitric oxide) boosters is recommended. In order to prevent senile dementia supplementation with additional neurotransmitters and supporting substances is imperative. In view of mitochondrial degeneration in the ageing muscles, supplementation with L-carnitine is also useful.
Predominantly aerobic sessions, developing of endurance (long distance running, triathlon), recreational strength exercises (split routines) should be replaced by full-body-workout sessions. If possible, use the HST method. There is an ever greater demand for appropriate biological renewal treatments – sauna, massage and visits to the osteopath every few months due to overuse injuries.
WHEY 100, VITARGO ELECTRO ENERGY, ISOLATE 100, TESTO(X)PACK, DAA ULTRA, GABA 750, CREA9 XTREME, NITRO(X)PACK, NITROBOLON, TYROSINE 600, L-CARNITINE 3000.
The fundamental prerequisite for maintaining the musculoskeletal system at a high level of fitness is appropriate physical activity, which helps to preserve muscle mass and muscle strength right into late old age, and also slows down its decline with age. The main reason for a progressing muscular atrophy is underuse of muscles in the absence of physical activity. With an appropriate selection of physical activity, nutritional methods and supplementation it is possible to enjoy the fitness of a young man right into ripe old age. Research shows that 50-year old men involved in resistance training had the muscular strength and diameter comparable to 28-year olds with low physical activity levels. At the same time it has been proved, that the correctly designed strength training programme results in a significant hypertrophy of muscle fibres and improves the degree of stimulation of motor units not only in middle-aged individuals, but also in ageing persons. The key is appropriate progressive loading of muscles and its timing and specific methods of biological renewal, including massages and sauna sessions, accompanied by correct nutrition and supplementation – aspects which should never be neglected.